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♪ ♪ (jane joyce) the ice sheet covering greenland is a complex and dynamic element of our climate system. it partially regulates earth's temperature by reflecting sunlight back into space, and grows and shrinks in response to the temperature it helps change. changes to polar ice do have consequences everywhere, not just at the poles. melting ice results in higher sea levels
that threaten coastal regions. greenland's ice, which is up to two miles thick in some places, is especially sensitive to melting caused by global warming, since its southern tip protrudes into warmer latitudes. nasa scientists compared aerial laser surveys of the southern greenland ice sheet from 1993 to 1998 and found that the coastal ice is thinning, in some places, at a rate of more than three feet a year! this thinning corresponds with warmer temperatures observed in the same time period. how fast ice sheets will shrink and sea levels rise has major impacts for the human population, since most of the world's people live within 50 miles of a coastline. the melting ice in greenland serves as a warning of how climate change in one part of the world, can impact the entire planet. for "our changing planet," i'm jane joyce. to learn more about our changing planet, visit us on the web at. . .